Asylum Welcome stands in solidarity with all Ukrainians and reaffirms its commitment to support all displaced peoples arriving in the UK by lobbying for a fairer, more dignified route to refugeehood and asylum.
Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine is a political and humanitarian crisis which will permanently change the lives of 44 million Ukrainians. Ultimately, those most affected by this conflict will be people and their lives, changed by uncertainty, separation from loved ones, and psychological and emotional trauma, alongside the threat of violence, injury, and death.
The UNHCR are reporting casualties and significant numbers of people fleeing to safety, both within Ukraine and to neighbouring countries. It has been suggested that the Russian invasion will displace millions of people.
At this time, the UK must be part of a co-ordinated and proportionate response which is centred on the needs of people and rises above partisan rhetoric.
Although Boris Johnson has committed to opening the UK’s border to Ukrainian refugees in parliament, the current government has a poor track record on following through on its word to protect the safety of displaced peoples. For example, it continues to push its anti-refugee Nationality and Borders Bill through the UK parliament, despite criticism from the United Nations that it contravenes international human rights conventions.
Update (17:30, 28/02/2022): In the wake of news that those seeking to flee Ukraine are being filtered by nationality at the Polish border — with migrants from African nations being prevented from crossing — Asylum Welcome stands in solidarity with all civilians seeking to escape the Russian invasion and reaffirms its call for the UK government to open its borders to all individuals seeking sanctuary.
The Government Must Act
Update (10:30, 07/03/2022): Since the start of the war, almost 1.4 million people have fled Ukraine, with the UNHCR predicting up to 4 million in the coming months. Having launched its Family Scheme for Ukrainians 2 days ago, the British government has granted only 50 visas and is coming under significant criticism for its ‘lack of humanity’ in the face of this crisis. The scheme offers Ukrainians with relatives in the UK the right to stay for up to three years, but critics say the policy falls short of the UK’s international obligations, is a mere gesture in comparison to the EU response, and is itself confusing and slow.
As the scene in Ukraine rapidly deteriorates, we reiterate our call on the UK government to become part of the solution. Instead of creating additional confusion and hoops to jump through, the UK should open its borders to all individuals displaced by the war and scrap any pre-arrival visa requirement.
As such, we are calling on the UK government to provide sanctuary for Ukrainians and to swiftly develop and implement a safe visa-free route for Ukrainians to seek safe haven in the UK, as well as halting the passage of the Nationality and Borders Bill through parliament. It is clear that this Bill would make any Ukrainians who arrive in the UK by non-official routes ineligible for full refugee status – and may even criminalise them.
Asylum Welcome has signed a joint letter published in the Times alongside over 50 organisations calling on the Government to respond swiftly and to rethink the Nationality and Borders Bill in light of recent events. A full version of this letter is available on the Refugee Council’s website. We have also co-signed the petition created by Freedom from Torture, supported by over 140,000 people, asking the government to do more to help Ukrainian refugees. Add your signature too here.
If you are Ukrainian in need to advice, then click here to contact a group of legal professionals who are providing free UK immigration and asylum advice to Ukrainian citizens affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.